Fr Hans Zollner resigns from Vatican’s sex abuse commission

Fr Hans Zollner resigns

Fr Hans Zollner has resigned from the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.

Zollner is one of the most respected experts in the Vatican’s fight against clergy sex abuse.

He cited disagreements over the way the body is being operated.

“I have noticed issues that need to be urgently addressed and that have made it impossible for me to continue further,” he said in a candid message published on social media.

He said structural and practical issues within the body that led him to disassociate with it.

However, Cardinal Sean O’Malley on Thursday said he strongly disagrees with the critique by Zollner.

In a statement on March 30, O’Malley, who heads the Commission, said: “I am surprised, disappointed and strongly disagree with [Zollner’s] publicly-issued assertions challenging the Commission’s effectiveness.”

“We do both share the view that the protection of children and vulnerable persons remains at the heart of the Church’s mission and the Commission will continue to manifest that conviction,” he said.

“The Commission has a plenary meeting scheduled in the next few weeks during which we can address these and other matters more fully as a group.”

The Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, was instituted in 2014 and 56-year-old Zollner was a founding member.

It serves as an advisory body to the pope, providing recommendations on how the Church can best protect minors and vulnerable adults.

Zollner had “grown increasingly concerned”

In his critique of the Commission, Zollner said he had “grown increasingly concerned” with the Vatican’s safeguarding commission and its lack of “responsibility, compliance, accountability and transparency.”

“I am convinced that these are principles that any Church institution, let alone the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, is bound to uphold,” he said.

According to Dr Christopher Longhurst, national leader of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) in Aotearoa New Zealand, these are the same institutional failures that survivors and advocates have experienced in the Catholic Church in New Zealand around safeguarding.

Longhurst said the fact that Zollner, who has been a member of that Commission since its creation, is only now recognising those failures is an example of how slow Church people are to learn or accept this truth.


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